After winter wallop, warmer weather brings new dangers

CONCORD, N.H. - More snow is ahead on Wednesday for residents of northern New England, a day after a fast-moving storm brought about a foot to many communities, but rain and warmer temperatures could present new problems for other states.

In the Midwest and Northeast, roofs piled high with record snows are in danger of collapsing. In big cities, the prospects of chunks of ice breaking loose off skyscrapers and becoming deadly projectiles has put many officials on edge.

The latest storm pushed snowfall in Chicago and Philadelphia this winter to more than 42 inches above normal, while New York is 39 inches above normal.

All that snow piled on roof tops has caused leaks and collapses in Illinois, Indiana and New Jersey, reports CBS News’ Vinita Nair. Ice dams form in drains, and roofs can see an extra 40 to 60 pounds per square foot of pressure from excess snow.

Melting snow could produce an extra 6 inches of water in the upper Midwest.

A rain and snow mixture is possible Wednesday afternoon along the northern New England coast, but inland communities could see between 1 and 4 inches of snow, said Eric Schwibs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

That won't be nearly as much as the snow from Tuesday's storm, which packed an unexpected wallop. Forecasts originally called for 4 to 7 inches in the heaviest hit, southern part of New Hampshire, but data collected by the National Weather Service show totals of 15.5 inches in Chichester, 14 inches in Rochester and 12.2 in Concord. Nearly 10 inches fell in Kennebunk, Maine. There were no reports of any major traffic problems caused by the weather.

In Chicago, the weather service says people who live along rivers and in flood-prone areas should prepare for possible flooding as the mounds of snow in yards and along streets melt.

In Ohio, where meteorologists predict a Thursday thunderstorm, there could be up to an inch and a half of rain in parts of the state, causing flooding.

Flooding is not expected to be a concern in New England. Meteorologist Mike Kistner in Gray, Maine, said the warm-up is expected to be short-lived, with another bout of arctic air headed into the area after a few days. It's expected to last well into next week.

The weight of snow on top of buildings in Pennsylvania and Michigan has officials worried after several roofs and awnings have collapsed this winter. One person in southeastern Pennsylvania suffered minor injuries Tuesday when a home's carport caved in, and two women in western Michigan suffered injuries described as non-life-threatening when a roof collapsed Wednesday.

City dwellers battling one of the most brutal winters on record have been dealing with something far more dangerous than snow falling from the sky: ice tumbling from skyscrapers.

Streets around New York's new 1 World Trade Center, the nation's tallest building, were recently closed when sheets of ice were seen shearing from the face of the 1,776-foot structure - turning them into potentially deadly, 100-mph projectiles.

And sidewalks around high-rises in cities big and small have been cordoned off with yellow caution tape because of falling icicles and rock-hard chunks of frozen snow, a situation that experts warn could get worse over the next few days as a thaw sets in over much of the U.S.

"The snow starts to melt and the liquid drips off and makes bigger and bigger icicles, or chunks of ice that break off skyscrapers," said Joey Picca, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in New York, which has had 48.5 inches of snow this winter and several cycles of freeze and thaw.

"Be very, very aware of your surroundings," he said. "If you see ice hanging from a building, find another route. Don't walk under hanging ice."

Some architects say newer, energy-efficient high-rises may actually be making the problem worse.

"They keep more heat inside, which means the outside is getting colder and that allows more snow and ice to form." said engineer Roman Stangl, founder of the consulting firm Northern Microclimate in Cambridge, Ontario.

Stangl helps developers opt for shapes, slope angles and even colors - darker colors absorb more melting sunrays - to diminish ice formation. High-tech materials can be also be used, such as at Tokyo's Skytree observation tower, where heaters were embedded in the glass to melt the ice.

Such options are not always possible in older cities with balconies, awnings and stone details.

Barry Negron said he saw ice hanging perilously off a four-story building near Rockefeller Center last month and was trying to warn other pedestrians when he was hit in the face with a sharp, football-size chunk. Cuts across his nose and cheek required 80 stitches.

"I panicked because I saw blood on my hands, and more coming down," said the 27-year-old salesman. As he lay on the pavement, "I heard two young ladies yelling, 'Oh, my God, oh my God, help! There's a lot of blood!'"

Since then, he's nervous when he walks around the city and has seen other near-hits. "I look at my scars, and I say, 'Why did this have to happen to me?'"

Exactly how many pedestrians are hit by falling ice is not clear, but dozens of serious injuries are reported annually. It's a perennial problem in St. Petersburg, Russia, where dozens reportedly are injured or killed every year. Seven people were hurt in 2011 near Dallas when huge sheets of ice slid off the roof of Cowboys Stadium. Fifteen people were injured in 2010 by a shower of ice from the 37-story Sony Building on New York's Madison Avenue.

Outside Chicago's 100-story John Hancock Center last month, people scrambled with backpacks and purses over their heads to avoid falling ice. On Tuesday, signs warning pedestrians of falling ice stood outside nearly every skyscraper and other tall building in Chicago's Loop as temperatures pushed above freezing for the first time in weeks.  Last week near New York's Carnegie Hall, at the same under-construction condo tower where a crane dangled during Superstorm Sandy, chunks of ice tumbled onto cars and buses.

New York City's Department of Buildings has issued an alert asking building owners to clear dangerous buildups of snow and rope off sidewalks, and they have issued citations with a standard penalty of $1,000 for those failing to do so.

But even the simplest solutions can sometimes be problematic. After ice was seen falling from 1 World Trade Center earlier this month, officials closed a nearby street and the entrance to the underground PATH train station that links New York with New Jersey. That caused a logjam of thousands of commuters with nowhere to go.

Temperatures above freezing in places where the storm passed through Tuesday should move up to the 40s to mid-50s for the rest of the week, said meteorologist John Cristantello, of the National Weather Service in New York.

In snow-struck northern New England, "Saturday will be a beach day," in the 40s, said Schwibs. "We've lowered our standards."

The latest storm came days after the Southeast and Northeast were paralyzed with heavy snow, ice and massive power outages.

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